Mount Kilimanjaro climbing expedition to study effects of oxygen deprivation

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Royal Philips, along with several other organisations, is to collaborate with the Mayo Clinic on an expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to understand how the body reacts to the rigors of high altitude. The aim is to use information gleaned during the climb to improve human health. The expedition, which will last about 10 days, starts on 7 August and will be chronicled on social media through the hashtag #kiliclimb2016.

Philips researchers plan to use the latest in app-based and digital technologies to record the vital signs of the nearly 35 participants on the climb, whose ages range from 25 to 65, to find clues as to how the body adapts to lack of oxygen. A press release reports that lack of oxygen at high altitudes mimics oxygen deprivation in the body during a cardiac event. Therefore, using the data from the climbers, the Philips researchers aim to understand how to better detect and prevent cardiac issues.

The Philips technologies that will be used during the climb include:

  • Contactless monitoring—the current method for measuring heart rate, arterial blood oxygenation, respiration rate and activity requires the use of sensors on the skin or devices strapped to the body. Therefore, according to the press release, contactless monitoring solutions will offer clinicians a way to accurately measure vital signs for patients in a non-obtrusive way, and provide them with the data needed to know when to intervene. With every heartbeat, the cardiovascular pressure wave causes tiny micro-blushes in the face. While these changes are not visible to the human eye, Philips’ contactless monitoring algorithms can calculate an accurate pulse rate by quantifying these changes.
  • Philips CX50 xMATRIX and Lumify ultrasound systems—Philips portable CX50 xMATRIX is designed to bring premium ultrasound capability to a variety of care settings. Philips Lumify is a smart-device, app-based ultrasound designed to help make ultrasound more accessible. Lumify operates on compatible Android smart devices equipped with Internet and email functionality. The Philips CX50 xMATRIX will be used to study heart measurements while the Lumify will be used for pulmonary measurements, both of which will help provide researchers with insight on the effects of hypoxia on human physiology.
  • Sleep diagnostics—at high altitude, the lack of oxygen can impact the body in a number of ways, including increased work of breathing and heart rate. The Alice NightOne wireless home sleep testing system will enable the research team to gather data on sleep quality and possible sleep disturbances from reduced oxygen content in the blood at high altitudes.

Carla Kriwet, chief executive officer of Patient Care and Monitoring Solutions, at Philips, comments: “Cardiology is one of the critical areas of focus for Philips and as such, we continue to collaborate with industry leaders like the Mayo Clinic in taking a unique approach to research, which includes climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to understand how hypoxia impacts people of different age groups.”

She adds: “As we uncover and better understand the body’s biomarkers and how the body’s mechanisms acclimate to high altitudes, we can continue to develop technologies that can make a meaningful impact in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular care.”